Jan. 30, 2015. In life, few memories are more cherished than the ones formed when a father is able to walk his daughter down the aisle for marriage. The custom, which symbolizes a lifetime of love, support and blessing between a doting dad and his little girl, makes for an emotional and highly anticipated day. This day seemed to be at hand for Dick Sloop, 66, of Wilkesboro when his daughter Maggie got engaged last fall.
As expected, Maggie, with her mother at her side, instantly sprung into wedding planning mode. Slooped joked afterward that his opinion mattered little when it came to decorating, but his assistance was requested when it was time to pay the bill.
The fairy tale wedding preparations were well underway when tragedy struck early in the summer. After doing some yard work, Sloop complained to his wife, Sherry, of a pain his his chest and arm. Fearing the worst, Sherry raced her husband to the Emergency Room where it was determined that he had suffered a heart attack.
“It was pretty scary and unexpected,” said the retired serviceman who prides himself on staying in good shape. “After my successful surgery, I was cleared to go home but I was unable to function like normal.”
Hindered by his weakened heart condition, Sloop worried that he would be unable to escort his daughter on her wedding day. Disappointed by the timing and severity of the situation, he was pleased to learn from his doctor that there is an excellent cardiopulmonary rehabilitation program located in Boone.
Hopeful to return to full strength in time for the wedding he enrolled in the Appalachian Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program (ACRP) offered at The Wellness Center in Boone. ACRP is a collaborative effort between Appalachian Regional Healthcare System and Appalachian State University’s Department of Health, Leisure and Exercise Science. The 12-week, 36-session program is designed to utilize exercise, nutrition, and clinical support to help its participants achieve their highest level of functionality while improving their quality of life.
During his first session, Sloop was greeted by the ACRP team which consists of Exercise Physiologist and Appalachian State University professor, Dr. Jeff Soukup, an on-site physician, a respiratory therapist, a registered nurse, a registered dietitian and a handful of Dr. Soukup’s graduate assistants.
“I was blown away to see how many medical staff would be taking care of me,” said Sloop. “I told them that I viewed my heart attack as a one day unfortunate event. And, since I was able to live through it, I was not going to allow it to ruin the rest of my life.”
After conducting a Metabolic Exercise Study to determine his fitness capability and anaerobic threshold, the team constructed a unique upper and lower body exercise program for their patient. Throughout the entire course, the staff closely monitored and documented his day-to-day progress as he engaged the treadmill, recumbent bike and NuStep machine.
In addition, the programs registered dietitian assessed his eating habits and recommended, when necessary, some healthy alternatives. After only a few sessions, Sloop noticed a significant improvement in his ability to perform basic exercises without complication. A feat he had been unable to accomplish just a few days prior.
“He was stellar,” said Kathleen Collins, RN, who monitored his progress from the beginning. “He always had a good attitude and he wanted to improve. Having a goal to work for (his daughter’s wedding) served as a good motivator, too.”
Perhaps no one was more pleased with his steady progress than Maggie. When August rolled around she was elated to find that her father was healthy enough to still deliver her in marriage.
“As a girl, you dream about that moment,” said Maggie with a grin. “I will always remember how hard my dad worked in rehab to be at my side on the biggest day of my life.”
For more information about the Appalachian Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program offered in both Boone and Linville, call 828-268-9043 or visit www.apprhs.org/cardiac-rehab. To learn more about Appalachian Regional Healthcare System visit www.apprhs.org.